By Claire Rivé, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The commander of the Manguinhos community’s Police Pacification Unit (UPP) was shot in the leg, while the unit headquarters of UPP Manguinhos were burned down last night (Thursday) as violent clashes between officers from the UPP and residents of the Zona Norte (North Zone) of Rio de Janeiro continue to escalate.
According to the military police, the unit was attacked during a protest against the eviction of occupants from an abandoned building on Avenida Leopoldo Bulhões in the Manguinhos suburb of Rio, with Commander Gabriel Toledo shot in the leg while patrolling the area. Another officer sustained a head injury when residents of the building countered police attempts to vacate the structure by throwing stones.
Another version of the story claims that criminals from the city’s Zona Oeste (West Zone) had met with drug traffickers from the Zona Norte to take over a community controlled by another criminal group. These groups entered into a confrontation with police upon their arrival in the area. At the time of press, there was no consensus as to what gave root to the confrontations in Manguinhos.
The shock battalion police was activated and arrived on the scene at 6:40PM. Traffic in the area was shut down at approximately 7PM when the confrontation turned into a firefight and protesters blocked the street with burning tires, effectively closing Avenida Leopoldo Bulhões in both directions, as well as the Saracurana extension of the Supervia commuter train, and forcing all trains to remain at Central Station.
By 7:50 PM the UPP containers that serve as headquarters for the Manguinhos unit were completely engulfed by flames as the conflict continued. This is the latest in a series of violent confrontations between police and residents of the Zona Norte favelas that have resulted in more police fatalities in the first three months of 2014 than the entire year of 2013.
This past weekend, two police officers were gunned down, bringing the number of police deaths this year to nineteen. The renewed violence in pacified favelas has led to re-occupation of some areas by BOPE (Special Operations Battalion) in an attempt to “reassert stability.” Hundreds of BOPE’s elite troops have been redeployed to the favelas of Complexo do Alemão and Complexo da Penha in Zona Norte of Rio.
Read more (in Portuguese).
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